[–] Stavon 0 points 4 points (+4|-0) ago 

Is there a textbook I could read? Are there tutorials I could do?

Only when you know what you want to do, otherwise it's hundreds of textbooks and tutorials

Do I need more hardware?

If you want to do electronics stuff, then yes, otherwise probably not. There are several boards to put ontop which help you get started with little hardware knowledge.

I want to be in the know with this thing. I want to put the time into learning exactly what it is capable of.

Start with something that interests you, and read into it. You won't be able to understand the whole thing.

Please help.

First get used to Linux a bit. Then try to use it as a web server, email server or file server in your local network. Or maybe a VPN server so you can connect to your home securely from insecure wifi networks somewhere else. Or a chat server for you and your friends. If you get an extension board, blink with leds, add a sensor and log the weather or something. Or add a GPS and make an exact clock.

There is a lot possible, but you must choose one at a time and invest time in it.


[–] 5parro 0 points 3 points (+3|-0) ago 

Hello plastination_station, and welcome to the world of Raspberry Pis!

In order to get a bit more detail, I would like to ask:

  • 1) are you familiar with Linux operating systems?
  • 2) have you programed before?
  • 3) have you ever constructed your own electronic devices before?

It's ok if the answer to some of those is No, but if the answer to all of those is no then keep in mind you are somewhat jumping off the deep end while trying to learn to swim. That's not to say that you can't do it, only that you're going to have to learn multiple things at once.

Keep in mind: the Pi itself is only a computer. There is nothing you couldn't do with a bog-standard Pi that you couldn't do with Ubuntu running in Virtualbox on your normal computer (which BTW is a much easier way to learn more about Linux than playing with Raspian IMHO, the GUI may look different but the backend is the same). The REAL advantage of the Pi is in it's GPIO, those rows of pins sticking out the top of the board. Those will be how you will interface between the Pi and the outside world (outside world being whatever you attach to the Pi).  

For people new to these sorts of things, I HIGHLY recommend working with something like an Arduino first, as this is a simple cheap programmable hardware platform that you can use to "get the feel" of building a device and writing a simple program to control it without having to worry about an operating system (Linux) and it's internals. In fact, if you prototype on an Arduino you can copy and adapt the program code to the Pi with minimal effort.

WARNING - It's not very difficult to ruin a raspberry pi without much trying to do so or even much effort on your part. It's a sensitive little device that is very fickle about what can traverse it's GPIO and how. It's not fun turning your Raspberry Pi into a brick. It's even LESS fun when you don't know why it happened. This is the painful voice of experience, I have a drawer in my desk that is an actual pi graveyard. So make sure you fully understand what you're doing (software & hardware) before you do it, because the Pi does not respond well to trial & error.

If you have any questions or you'd like to know more, feel free to ask them or PM me and I'll do my best to answer. Good luck, stay safe, and welcome to the world of the Raspberry Pi!


[–] plastination_station [S] 0 points 1 point (+1|-0) ago 

Hi 5parro!

1) I have dabbled with Ubuntu long ago but nothing beyond the nice GUI provided for noobs like me.

2) I can write a mean MATLAB program but Im not sure if that counts. I have also played with MS command prompt some.

3) one time when I was in maybe 10th grade I duct taped 4 old stereo speakers together and rigged them to play with an aux cable. Other than that, no lol.

I have heard of arduinos boards and I'm willing to give it a try. I guess what I really want to get out of all this is how to connect raw sensors like for light or pH or whatever and being able to write a code to react to conditions.

As for learning multiple things at once, I am up to the challenge. I pick things up quick once I can get the ball rolling. The problem is getting the ball rolling.

Thanks for the good reply


[–] 5parro 0 points 2 points (+2|-0) ago  (edited ago)

If you are experienced with Ubuntu then Raspian shouldn't be too much of a shift... You may want to try playing wround with Debian-Mate to get a bit of a better feel as Raspian is much more debian-based than Ubuntu. There is a version of Ubuntu available for the Pi 2, but unfortunately it won't work on the Pi 1 due to limitations of the CPU.

I highly recommend learning on an arduino first and then moving to a Pi when you're more comfortable with the environment, but that's just a personal preference. If you have the equipment (sensors, breadboard, multimeter, etc) then there is no reason you CAN'T use the Pi.

In order to access the GPIO you will need to learn a programming language, either C/C++, Python, or both. There is no need to go learn it "from the ground up" so to speak, the best way is to look at what other people have done that could be applicable in your situation, and then try to mimic that setup and run their code. Once it works, you can analyze it, and maybe even tweak it a little, and then try to extend on it (The Pi can be more forgiving of software errors than hardware errors, but still be careful).

Python is the "preferred" programming language for the Pi (start with this), but I personally like C because it is directly portable to/from arduinos. If you do decide to use C you will need a library like WiringPi, although there are many other C libraries out there for Pi. If you want to use the specialized interfaces like SPI or I2C you will need to enable them in the kernel in order for them to work. (Unless your device specifically requires them, you probably don't need them.)

Here is the Pi B+'s GPIO Pinout

Here is a nice video about how to use the GPIO

Good Luck!

PS: You may be tempted to overclock your Pi. This is generally considered a bad idea unless you REALLY know what you're doing. Any speed increase you get will be rather negligible, but your chances of damaging something (the board itself) are SIGNIFICANTLY increased, as will your heat output (also not good). PLEASE don't do this unless you understand enough to know that you HAVE to for whatever use-case you're about to put it through (and even then, REALLY think about it first... is it really worth turning your board into a doorstop if it goes into thermal runaway?)

Edit: I've added some useful links to the sub's sidebar. Hopefully these can help!


[–] frankis 0 points 3 points (+3|-0) ago 

Sounds like you have a solution to a problem that doesn't yet exist. I generally find something that needs "fixing" or improving in some way and think about how making it "smart" would make it even better. That's where the Pi comes in. It's truly up to your imagination, and I found I've spent a lot of time Googling things like "raspberry pi temperature control." My first Pi was set up as a low power media center, and I wanted to control it with my universal remote. Sure I could get a USB IR adapter, but because it's a Pi I went to Fry's and found an IR module. I then researched which pins it needs to plug into, what software I need to install to make it work, and then figured out the best way to mount it for my setup. Take a look around, I'm sure you'll find something that's been bothering you that a little computer would fix.


[–] causuistry 0 points 1 point (+1|-0) ago 

Instructables has hundreds of projects. Apparently the Robotic Operating System can run on a pi, which may be of interest to you as an ME. Pick one and tinker. You'll learn a bit about linux as you go.


[–] audiomoddified 0 points 1 point (+1|-0) ago 

I think this sub is a decent start. The Pi is like Minecraft...there's stuff you can do with it, but what you need to do is decide which of those things you WANT to do with it. Personally, my current project is working on a head mounted display.


[–] suckmyassindustries 0 points 1 point (+1|-0) ago 

Speaking of which, you can run a (stripped down) Minecraft server on a Pi.


[–] audiomoddified ago 

yea, but it wouldn't be for more than a couple people. btw, LOVE the name.


[–] nearly-evil 0 points 1 point (+1|-0) ago 

I would suggest getting a live cd for linux, I like mint . Or use a virtual box to install linux as a program in windows. This will give you a real environment to get used to commands.

Also, there are many refinances as to how to make things with the pi, but you will first have to decide what you want to do. And yes, most projects will require some other parts.


[–] Justnit ago 

You could build the morality statute machine from demolition man. Issue fines in the house for swears.


[–] AxisOfWevil ago 

I bought this book when I bought my Raspberry Pi. It gives a good overview of the Raspberry Pi in addition to projects and the basics of Linux. I think it's a good read.

load more comments ▼ (2 remaining)